En­sem­ble Schu­mann

A blend of sound, re­mark­able mu­si­cian­ship

Times of the Islands - - Departments - BY ERIK ENT WISTLE

As sea­son once again comes into full swing and tourists flock to South­west Florida, vis­i­tors and res­i­dents alike can take ad­van­tage of the ver­i­ta­ble em­bar­rass­ment of riches that are to be en­joyed here, both in­doors and out. Among the many de­lights of­fered to mu­sic-lovers at Sani­bel’s BIG ARTS this sea­son is a trio of in­stru­men­tal­ists whose col­lec­tive sound proves to be as re­mark­able as the level of ex­pe­ri­ence and mu­si­cian­ship they each bring to the stage (this year's con­cert is sold out, un­for­tu­nately). With its un­con­ven­tional com­bi­na­tion of oboe, vi­ola and pi­ano, En­sem­ble Schu­mann Oboist Thomas Gal­lant (left), pi­anist Sally Pinkas and vi­o­list Steve Larson are En­sem­ble Schu­mann. The trio's Jan­uary con­cert at BIG ARTS is sold out. has been ex­hil­a­rat­ing au­di­ences with the un­usual and the un­ex­pected for more than 10 years.

This par­tic­u­lar com­bi­na­tion of in­stru­ments has to be heard to be ap­pre­ci­ated, of course. Oboist Thomas Gal­lant notes, "The fact that th­ese in­stru­ments each pro­duce a very unique sound is what makes the group spe­cial. This is not as in a string quar­tet, where there is more of a blend of sound. Here you have a very soul­ful vi­ola sound, with a more stri­dent oboe sound, paired with the many col­ors that a pi­anist can pro­duce.”

Pi­anist Sally Pinkas elab­o­rates: “The most in­ter­est­ing thing is the fact that no­body can hide―each in­stru­ment has a unique color, no two are alike.”

THE MOST IN­TER­EST­ING THING IS THE FACT THAT NO­BODY CAN HIDE— EACH IN­STRU­MENT HAS A UNIQUE COLOR, NO TWO ARE ALIKE.”

—PI­ANIST SALLY PINKAS

The trio's pro­gram nat­u­rally fea­tures mu­sic by the epony­mous Schu­mann (Ada­gio and Al­le­gro for vi­ola and pi­ano, Op. 70), as well as Mozart (the pop­u­lar “Kegel­statt” Trio, K. 498) and Bruch (Eight Pieces, Op. 83). In the Mozart and Bruch pieces, the oboe takes the place of the clar­inet, al­low­ing for a fresh au­ral per­spec­tive on th­ese works. Round­ing out the recital is a nov­elty: the Op. 28 Schil­flieder (“Reed Songs”) by Au­gust Klughardt, a Ger­man com­poser who was in the mu­si­cal or­bit of Liszt and Wag­ner. The work’s five move­ments are based on a set of po­ems by Niko­laus Le­nau, telling of the sad­ness of lost love as the poet wan­ders at the edge of a reed-filled pond. Notes Pinkas: “It is quite an over-the-top, emo­tional work, clearly in­debted to the great con­tem­po­rary ro­man­tic com­posers of Klughardt’s time. For the pi­ano, it is a tour de force.”

The En­sem­ble is now en­joy­ing the ben­e­fits of hav­ing per­formed to­gether for over a decade. “One of the great things is the free­dom,” ob­serves vi­o­list Steve Larson. “We’ve got­ten to know each other’s play­ing, we’ve got­ten to know how to com­mu­ni­cate with each other, and it al­lows us to take in­ter­pre­tive risks on stage and vary our in­ter­pre­ta­tion from per­for­mance to per­for­mance.”

And per­haps most im­por­tantly, as Gal­lant points out, “We have great chem­istry to­gether.”

Pi­anist, in­struc­tor and mu­si­col­o­gist Erik En­twistle re­ceived an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in mu­sic from Dart­mouth Col­lege. He earned a post-grad­u­ate de­gree in pi­ano per­for­mance at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in St. Louis. He earned his doc­tor­ate in mu­si­col­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Santa Bar­bara. He teaches on Sani­bel.

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